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Buying is now cost-effective for some renters

July 24, 2009

decisionsMany renters debating whether to buy or rent their homes are realizing that the increase in affordability,
coupled with low interest rates and tax incentives, are tipping the scales toward home ownership.

• An analysis of 45 metro areas by the Associated Press found that the gap between the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home and the median rent has decreased from $777 a month to just $221 in the past three years.
• In markets across the nation, including the inland areas of California, prices have declined by nearly 40 percent, resulting in rising sales as first-time buyers use a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the home price, up to $8,000.
• Favorably priced foreclosures in some markets are drawing multiple bids. Many housing experts believe that as supply and demand even out, home prices will eventually begin to rise, but for now most buyers are having little difficulty finding affordable homes.
• Qualified first-time buyers may be eligible for loans insured by the Veterans Administration (VA), which does not require a down payment. Another loan product gaining popularity are those insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which require only a down payment of 3.5 percent.
• It is important that potential home buyers not only look at the monthly mortgage payment compared with their monthly rent payment, but that they also consider other costs associated with homeownership. These can include homeowner association (HOA) fees, insurance, maintenance, and utilities, which most renters are not responsible for paying.

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